Can Jerryd Bayless be a significant player in this league.
To me, that's really what Bryan Colangelo's latest trade comes down to.
As NB'eh's Devin Dignam posted yesterday, there's no question the Toronto Raptors gave up the better players in the short term, and while financially it gave Toronto more long-term flexibility, no one can say for certain if the Raps are better off for making this trade at this point.
However should Mr. Bayless develop with the Raptors, suddenly things would look a lot different.
So what are the chances of that?
Well for starters, as our buddy at BlazersEdge (and now CBS Sports), Ben Golliver, pointed out in his talk with Holly MacKenzie recently, Bayless may be a much better fit in a Toronto offense that plays at a much faster pace. And while on paper to Ben's point, it doesn't look like there are starters' minutes available, I'm going to disagree a bit. If Jose Calderon struggles to contain opposing lead guards game after game, and continues to struggle with his shot (Jose's shooting under 40% from the field on the season), then we might see a situation where Bayless starts games, but Jose plays in crunch time and gets the bulk of the minutes.
But I do agree that his upside is largely based on opportunity here, and you've gotta worry that Triano buries him on the bench regardless of how he looks in spot minutes. (See Wright, Julian, Dorsey, Joey, Weems, Sonny until recently.)
To get another take on Bayless, as well as Peja, I fired over a few questions to Rohan from "At the Hive" and I answered some queries he had:
1) RaptorsHQ: How much did you get to see of Jerryd Bayless and what's your take on him in terms of upside and future in this league?
At The Hive: I've always been a Bayless fan since his Portland days. I never saw too much of him, but I knew he was a pure scorer that could get to the line frequently. When he came to NOLA, the team tried to make him a pass first guy. His assist rates did increase significantly, but he also turned the ball over way too often as a result.
I think he could be the ultimate change of pace guy off the bench, but it needs to be as a combo guard. He'll find success when a team lets him play to his natural skill set. For me, his ceiling is a guy like Jason Terry. They have very different games (JET shoots jumpers, Bayless gets layups and free throws), but I think Bayless could have a JET-like impact on games- an extra guy that defenses have to game plan for and a tough matchup.
2) RHQ: How much does Peja have left in the tank or should Raptors' fans view this as strictly a "future cap room" transaction?
@tH: He can still shoot (obviously). I think given the chance, his back to the basket game will still be there. The real issues are defense and rebounding... those two things alone could render him a future cap room guy.
3) This Raptors' team is finally making way for a youth movement so would either player be a problem if they didn't get minutes on a nightly basis?
@tH: Peja: no way. He's been the ultimate professional in NOLA. He comes to work every day, does what's asked of him, and that's that. There won't be any issues there. I can't see Bayless getting overly worked up about it either. But he's more of an emotional guy, and it's really been a tough couple months for him already.
Bonus question) Can we have Marco Belinelli back now?
So general consensus on Bayless to this point?
Probably that Bayless is truly a combo guard and while he's perhaps been underutilized, he simply isn't a solid option as a starting point guard because of his passing issues.
Having seen Bayless up close in Vegas for two straight summers, I'd agree. He dominated Summer League using his scoring and athletic abilities, but he was still prone to bad turnovers and decisions as the Blazers' lead guard. Indeed he's probably better suited as a change of pace guard off the bench but I still wonder if his defensive abilities, competitiveness, and ability to get to the free throw line won't get him a look in the starting unit at some point. According to 82games.com, Bayless draws fouls on nearly 16% of his offensive possessions, a number that would put him slightly behind only DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson on this current squad, and something that would be a huge asset to the club.
However playing time is still the key piece in my books.
Without significant minutes I'm not sure we'll ever really know what Bayless can do, and while I'm not convinced he'll ever be much more than a Bobby Jackson type, we won't even know that if he's strapped to the pine.
Tomorrow night Raptors' fans will get their first chance to potentially see Bayless in action (as well as Peja), and the HQ will be at the game via media access to talk to the newest Raptors.
Hopefully we'll get a chance to have a good chat with Jerryd, but even more importantly, hopefully Jerryd will get a chance to make himself a permanent fixture in this rotation as the season progresses.